Center for Pastoralism

Kachchh belongs to the arid areas of India.These areas are marked by sparse vegetation which regenerates slowly and this makes it unsuitable for man to harness land resources through farming.Frequently mobile livestock that helps man produce food of the land is a characteristic trait of arid areas, places where average rainfall is less than around 300 mm per annum. Interestingly these mobile livestock systems are able to ensure high productivity form while having low economic costs and low ecological costs. Such a way of production is called pastoralism.

It is not surprising that Pastoralism has been one of the most popular occupations in Kutch over the centuries. The pastoral people in Kutch are well known for their proficiency in breeding their traditional ecological knowledge of grasslands, and their intimate relationship with animals. Unfortunately this rich culture has increasingly come under threat due to inconsiderate policies, loss of access to traditional grazing lands, and changes in the macro-economic scenarios. Over the past years Sahjeevan has continuously worked to support these pastoral systems and engage the outside world on the necessity of conserving this culture.

During these years Sahjeevan has been instrumental in registering several indigenous breeds including celebrated ones such as Banni Buffalo and Kharai Camel. Sahjeevan has also worked closely with the community and been vital to the formation of several community based organizations, KUUMS, BPUMS and Association of the breeders of sheep and goats chief among them. Today Sahjeevan is recognized as one of the leading organizations working on breed conservation. It is working on conservation and registration of seven breeds with in Gujarat and extending expert support for multiple organizations outside the state to help register local indigenous breeds.

The CP group of Sahjeevan is moving towards development of a new model of conservation of ecosystems centered to on the distinct breeds of livestock. The Model of Indigenous Breed Conservation is a comprehensive package based on  breed and its habitat conservation. The model starts with identification of the distinct indigenous breeds for conservation along with the breeder communities and their practices. The ecological characteristics of the habitat where the breed has originated is also studied with focus on threats to its conservation . Along with the characterisation and registration of the breeds, the breeders are organised as Breeder’s Associations and their capacities are improved for the conservation of the habitat and also to improve the livelihood / incentives generated from the breeds. Changes in the wider macro-economic world has led to a breakdown of traditional economic ties within communities, and increasingly pastoral communities find their livelihood sources limited in number, size and scope. Sahjeevan is working to revive traditional livelihood systems as well as develop new sources livelihood options. Currently Sahjeevan is involved in marketing camel milk as a food product, developing camel wool products and reviving sheep wool based crafts.

Today Sahjeevan is counted among the leading organizations working on pastoral livelihood and culture in the country and it collaborates with multiple national and international organizations/networks to advocate change that supports pastoral systems across the world.